January 23, 2012
As wrong as wrong can be: I was dead wrong in my forecast for South Carolina. I expected Newt to crumble. I should have foreseen that, if there is one place where petulance won't turn people off, it's South Carolina, where they like their politics on the rough-and-tumble side. I expected South Carolina to be the place where a "social conservative" would put a real chink in Romney's armor. I just expected that guy to be Rick Santorum, given his strong showing in Iowa and better-than-expected results in New Hampshire. No doubt Mitt gave Newt plenty of help (firing people, marginal tax rates, etc.), but Santorum could have benefited just as much. He just doesn't seem to have a hook. Newt seems more focused and able to stay on point. Newt is also starting to co-opt themes from Ron Paul - before his acceptance speech, I don't believe I had ever heard the words "sound money" roll off Newt's tongue. And whether you like him or not, NO ONE would do a better job debating Obama than would Newt.
On to Florida: Strongly recommend John Heilemann's piece regarding lessons from South Carolina (http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/01/heilemann-five-new-gop-primary-factors.html). Couldn't agree more about Newt really being the front runner in Florida. Having lived in south Florida for several years, I don't see Romney connecting with conservatives there, especially in the Cuban community. Florida today is like the Wild West 125 years ago - seems like a place for Newt to make a mark. Looks to me like a 3-man race after Florida (what would be Santorum's raison d'etre?). After some minor caucuses in early February (look for Ron Paul to pick up some delegates at these), the next critical mass seems to be February 28, the date of the primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Could Newt take his new "populist" look to Michigan and beat Romney there? Would a loss in Michigan be the death knell for the Romney campaign?
John Heilemann: This guy has a sharp intellect and can write as well as anyone out there. He's made my list of daily reading. Any guy who can use the phrase "stale bong water" in a legitimate news article must have something going for him. John, you're making me question my feelings for Chuck Todd.
You want to WHAT?: Props to Sen. Rand Paul for refusing a TSA patdown this morning. Seriously people? I know we want to be fair and politically correct and all that good stuff, but can people use some common sense once in a while. The TSA doesn't want to profile people. Really? What do you think police do every day? It's what keeps them from chasing dead ends and focused on the likely suspect. That behavior leads to a higher rate of actually solving crime. Um, does anyone know that the FBI has people on the payroll who are..............PROFILERS! Gosh, when my child is kidnapped, I hope the cops don't resort to profiling - that would be so mean. Oy.